I took my pants off, put my paper panties on and slid sideways onto the table. It was sticky and crunchy. I wasn’t sure if it was from the red pleather the table was upholstered in or the waxy ‘use it once and toss it’ medical paper my butt had just annihilated while schooching to the center of the table. Probably both.
Despite feeling nervous, I laid down and tried to relax. I knew there was no turning back now. It had taken me months to find this place and almost a year to get an appointment. I stared intently at the popcorn plastered ceiling and tried to breathe through my mouth, avoiding the smell of stale B.O. that permeated the air.
My instinct was to fling off my new disposable paper undies and run for the streets of Manhattan, in, yes, my birthday suit. Pants are so overrated in a situation like this. But my vanity stopped me.
Plus, I had it on good word that this was indeed one of the best ‘underground beauty’ salons in the city, despite the fact I had just climbed seven creepy flights of stairs, above ground, to get to it. The outside of the building faced West 57th Street and had a prewar charm to it, but inside, it screamed post apocalyptic dilapidation.
To ease my anxiety, I closed my eyes and thought about the impressive wall of fame I’d just passed by on my way in. Every famous Victoria Secret Model (that I could think of,) a few Oscar winning actresses, sitcom and soap stars, even other Entertainment Reporters, had all worn these paper panties before me. Not the exact same ones, but all of them had indeed come to this place to get their nether-regions waxed. Brazilianized, if you will.
Mind you, when I lived in Miami I’d never felt the need for a Brazilian, but now that I was a resident of NYC I found myself obsessed, in the dead of winter, with getting one. (About a year after this weird waxing incident, I retreated back to South Florida after suffering from Palm Tree, a good hair blowout, Caipirinha and Deco Drive withdrawal. But I digress.)
Helga (yes, her name was Helga,) abruptly entered the room. There was no small talk. No motherly ‘I’m here to make you feel comfortable’ glance. No ‘it’s gonna hurt, but it’ll be worth it’ affirmation. Instead, she coldly instructed me to lift my legs in a gymnastic-like position and before I knew it, she ripped me of my hair virginity. Needless to say, I was stunned. If you’ve had a Brazilian before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Helga could definitely tell I was a first-timer. I think she even felt a bit of satisfaction from the look of horror on my face. “You’ll be back,” she said, in a thick Romanian accent, as she dramatically ripped the crinkled paper from beneath me like a magician doing a tablecloth pull.
Instead of leaving I just stood there (obviously, still in shock,) staring at Helga, ‘my torturer,’ a nickname I would bequeath her a few months later. Helga unapologetically ignored me and went about her business, prepping for her next victim.
When she turned to leave, the room was so small, we found ourselves face to face, almost in a kissing position. Helga was a bit taller than me, so her gaze sunk straight into my forehead. She smirked with disapproval and said: “Can I be honest with you?”
At that point, I didn’t really think we had any secrets between us, so I nodded yes. “It’s not the hair down there I’m worried about,” she said, while stoically shifting her gaze to my womanly parts. I felt awkward and uncomfortable (after all, I was still in freshly waxed pain) and I knew for whatever reason, I was about to hear something almost as bad as what I had just felt.
Helga, like a judge on an episode of America’s Next Top Model, scanned her eyes up my body, locked her gaze on my forehead and with the drama of a Broadway actor trying to play to the back of the house, accusingly pointed at my eyebrows and said: “This is NO GOOD.”
After a stern lecture about how awful my overly plucked, overly waxed, ugly sperm shaped eyebrows were, I darted from the room, ran down the seven flights of stairs (that I could barely schlep up) and called an emergency ‘tell me the truth’ meeting with a confidant.
It was a cold hard day in NYC and it was about to get even colder. On the corner of 57th and 6th Avenue, I asked my friend: “Are my eyebrows really too, thin?” “Yes.” He said bluntly. He expressed equal bluntness about my newly naked nether-region. “What does it feel like?” He asked. I waited for a few minutes, for the pain to return, but strangely, it did not. I smiled and said: “It feels pretty good.”
Helga was right, I’d be back.
The thing is, Helga couldn’t help me grow my eyebrows back. I’d have to do that on my own, but she did help me whip my Brazilian into Brazilian-like fabulousness, despite the fact that winter raged on, well into June that year. I respected Helga and not just for taming my ‘down there hair,’ but for telling me the naked truth. No matter how unplucked it made me.
Helga was simply stating the facts (like any good journalist would do.) After years of television, modeling, aggressive make-up artists and tried-and-trued self maintenance, my brows had all but disappeared; too bad I couldn’t say the same about the hair in my nether-region.
That winter, I started the long hard process of growing The Bold, Bushy & The Beautiful brow back. It would take me years and back then, in 2006, there was no guarantee I could grow back my God-given brow. I was aiming for a full sprout, too, like the look I had when I was say, seventeen.
And boy, am I glad I did! One despicable hair at a time. Because by 2007, the natural brow would make a huge comeback. In 2008, they grew even thicker, longer and more languid.
Fast forward to the brow of now, which is dark, dense, bushy and wild. In 2013, eye ornaments should lay straight across your face and be seduced away from any type of submission. Think the unibrow of your awkward teen years, or the one you’ve tried to eradicate from your more say, ‘natural partner.’ It’s even okay if they mingle in the middle.
The good news is – getting back to The Bold, Bushy & The Beautiful doesn’t have to be a debacle, like my Helga days or impossible, thanks to (drum roll please)…
Yes, you can actually have little fake hairs glued onto your own eyebrows! The extensions are placed between your own brow hairs, to create immediate volume, texture and length. If you really wanna go all Brooke Shields, circa 1980, you can have some of the pieces placed against the grain, giving off the impression of a virgin brow. Oh, how I love modern technology.
The Bold, Bushy & The Beautiful will last you about 2 weeks. I’d say, realistically, more like 7 to 10 days, depending on how much you actually wash and fidget with your face. It’ll cost you about $150 dollars to bolster up your brows, but it really depends on how much hair you need and what city you live in. Speaking of…
If this is the kind of hairy situation you’d rather avoid (because of maintenance and money,) there is something else you can do. Go and see Gloria Williams a.k.a The Brow Master. She’s tucked away, as one of the best kept secrets in the Magic City, at Paula’s Salon on South Beach. Paula introduced us and Gloria’s mad skills ended up being a feature story on Deco Drive.
Gloria is a brow mapping savant. Her speciality is to find the best frame for your face and use any means to create it. She’s a woman of many methods, hence the title ‘The Brow Master.’ The best thing about Gloria is she’s accessible. There’s no underground phone number, or secret text message you have to send to get an appointment. When you call Paula’s Salon, they actually answer the phone and they’re always up-to-date on the latest and greatest in beauty, fashion and style.
The Brow Master is lovely, affable and kind. Best of all, she won’t accusingly point at your forehead and say: “This is NO GOOD.” She’ll just transform your face with a rip (if you need it) and a smile. Extra bonus: no creepy stairs.
As fate would have it, laser hair removal became more affordable, Helga moved home to Romania and I migrated South, back to Miami; where I, once and for all, permanently removed ALL the hidden hair from the crevices of my body.
My eyebrows however, have remained intact. In fact, they’ve grown into The Bold, Bushy & The Beautiful just the way God intended them to be – that is, with a little help from modern technology.
The Browmaster/Gloria Williams www.paulassalonmiami.com Eyebrow Extensions www.NaturalLash.com